Waitrose has announced plans to remove all disposable coffee cups from its shops by this autumn, as part of efforts to reduce plastics and packaging.
Members of the myWaitrose loyalty scheme will still be able to get free tea or coffee from self-service machines as a reward for shopping at the supermarket, but will be asked to use a reusable “keep cup”, the company said.
The removal of disposable cups will initially take place in nine stores from April 30, as a trial for managing the changeover, before the scheme is rolled out nationwide in a phased programme by the autumn.
Waitrose said the move, which comes as the Government is considering a “latte levy” which would bring in a charge on disposable coffee cups, would save more than 52 million cups a year.
According to the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, the UK throws away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups a year, almost none of which are recycled, with the cups hard to recycle due to their plastic lining.
Tor Harris, head of sustainability and responsible sourcing at Waitrose, said: “We realise this is a major change, but we believe removing all takeaway disposable cups is the right thing to do for our business and are confident the majority of customers will support the environmental benefits.
“It underlines our commitment to plastic and packaging reduction and our aim is to deliver this as quickly as possible.”
As part of the changes, myWaitrose members will not be able to claim their free hot drink in the chain’s 180 in-store cafes, to avoid customers without a reusable cup who cannot use the self-service machines putting increased pressure on the catering areas.
Instead, myWaitrose members who purchase a tea or coffee in a cafe will get a choice of food options for free or with a significant discount, the company said.
The first nine shops to see disposable cups removed will be Banbury, Oxfordshire; Billericay, Essex; Ipswich, Suffolk; Newmarket, Suffolk; Norwich, Norfolk; Sudbury, Suffolk; Wymondham, Norfolk; Upminster, east London; and Fitzroy Street, Cambridge.